Jan 26, 2010 (09:01 AM EST)
National Database Tracks Truck Thefts

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

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Some say it's a $3 billion-a-year problem, others say insurers, carriers and manufacturers take a $30 billion hit each year. Estimates vary because there is no single source of data. But that's about to change as insurance data provider ISO and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) prepare to launch CargoNet, the first-ever national database of truck theft information

Set to launch January 31, CargoNet is aimed at giving industry and law enforcement agencies timely, detailed data on when, where and how trucks are stolen across the country. Regional databases have proven to thwart theft in hot spots like Los Angeles and South Florida by providing alerts for carriers and timely insight that helps law enforcement agencies set up deterrent patrols and stolen-goods sting operations. But localized efforts have fallen well short of solving a nationwide problem.

"CargoNet will connect multiple data sources, so we'll get away from the fragmentation of having information in multiple databases and e-mails floating around from one task force to another," says Maurizio Scrofani, ISO's managing director of the CargoNet initiative.

Once it's switched on this weekend, CargoNet will collect up to 257 fields of data detailing everything from destination, plate number and carrier to the time, data and location of the theft, to serial numbers and other identifying detail on the stolen goods. Refreshed several times per day, CargoNet is expected to track more than 10,000 events per year, driving both a national alerting system and a corresponding truck stop watch program.

Truck theft happens mostly on weekends, and it's rife around the Los Angeles basin, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Memphis, Tenn. Trucks and trailers typically slip away in the dark of night from truck stops, rest areas, distribution centers and transfer points. The goods most often hit are consumer electronics, food, wine and spirits, clothing and other items easily sold on the street.

These historical patterns are well known, but cops on the beat need up-to-the-minute information on the latest truck stops and distribution centers hit, the time of day perpetrators strike and the type of goods stolen. Carriers and manufacturers want fresh, nationwide information so they can change the timing of deliveries and avoid specific truck stops and routes. Insurers want a single source of data so they can get a better gauge risk and bring the problem under control nationawide.

"The main idea with CargoNet is to get this information out to law enforcement agencies as quickly as possible so we can prevent new incidents and recover some of the loads that have been stolen," says Barry Tarnef, senior loss control officer at Chubb, one of more than 1,000 property and casualty insurers backing the NICB.

Initially funded by the insurance industry, CargoNet is expected to draw ongoing subscription revenues from carriers and manufacturers hoping to control risk and losses with the aid of detailed reports and predictive analytics provided by ISO. The database is carefully partitioned for security and competitive reasons. Law enforcement agencies get full and free access all information. Insurers, carriers and manufacturers get aggregated national information plus full detail on their own loss histories.